Monday, December 30, 2013

Well, at least I'm still a Missionary!

Quotes of the week:

1. On the phone with Elder Diodati (district leader)--
Elder D: "As a request from Elder ___ we are all to pray for safety as we drive... Or we could just pray for winter tires!"
Us (laughing): "Thanks! Do you know if there was another accident then?"
Elder D: "No idea... But my bets are on a sister!"
Us: "RUDE. You're askin for it, elder."
Elder D (laughing): "Have I mentioned how much I love our district?!"
Us: "Yeah, yeah. We'll see who's laughing when you get a snowball in the gut."
Elder D: "What?! That's district leader abuse!"
a minute later...
Us: "I think we've got the virus that's been going around the mission."
Elder D: "No way! Sister Sandberg has it too! I think it might be a sisters virus... It's probably the reason sisters can't drive too...."
Us: "Are you kidding me!"
Elder D (laughing): "I'm just kidding. Is it making you tired?"
Us: "Exhausted."
Elder D: "Okay, I'll let you sisters go then. Sleep well tonight and get better."
Us: "Thanks. Don't catch the sisters virus."
Elder D: "Yeah... I'm getting emotional as we speak.... I better go."

2. Sister Vera--while I was pulling out of the church parking lot: "Sister Lewis, didn't Elder Evanson tell you not to do bagels in the parking lot?"

It's been quite the week. We had a beautiful, white, icy Christmas with some of the best members. We're still scraping snow off the inside of our car. I got to Skype my INCREDIBLE family, whom I love so much. Between fighting off a virus, dropping a few investigators, avoiding the lady who's trying to betroth me to her son, and trying to complete the Book of Mormon by New Year's, it's been a really draining week. But one of my favourite parts of Preach My Gospel is right at the beginning, where it says that as our (not just missionaries', but everyone's) understanding of the Atonement increases, so will our desire to share the gospel. And as I've learned to depend on the Atonement more and more, especially through the rougher weeks like this one, my testimony of the restored gospel deepens and it makes it easier and even more desirable to share the gospel.

A few weeks ago in stake conference, one of the members of the stake presidency gave a talk on missionary work. He's very intense and very powerful. When he speaks, the room goes dead quiet because people are breathing in every word he says. He just lets the Spirit work through him. During his talk, he was addressing the importance of member-missionary work and how each of us (and I included myself in that although the talk was directed to the members) need to step it up if we want to see growth in our part of the vineyard. And he concluded the talk with these powerful words:

"I know that what happened in 1820 in a grove of trees is true. It is absolutely true! And when you come to know that it is true too, that will eliminate a lot of your fears."

It was so powerful. And I look at that last part again and again: "And when you come to know that it is true too, that will eliminate a lot of your fears." If we really understood all the implications of being a part of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, we would have no hesitations whatsoever in sharing the gospel. 

But having that knowledge also eliminates other fears. "And when you come to know that the restoration of Christ's Church is true too, that will eliminate your fears regarding _____." Fears regarding the future, fears regarding parenting, fears regarding a daunting trial.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned in my life is that if we knew perfectly that we are children of God, we wouldn't mess up. If I had a perfect knowledge that God was my Heavenly Father, I would understand the significance and I would know I couldn't afford to sin. And that's one of the miracles of having the fullness of the gospel right now. We can deepen our understanding of the Atonement, of the restoration, of God being our Father, so that:

1. Our desire to share the gospel will increase.
2. Our fears will be eliminated.
3. We can better ourselves and move towards perfection.

Anyway, I know it's a bunch of jumbled thoughts and not a great update on the week, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently. I'm grateful for the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and that we can continually deepen our understanding of the Atonement, restoration, and Heavenly Father, no matter how many times we are exposed to those words.

I love you all, hope you had a merry Christmas, and wish you a happy New Year as well.

Love,

Sister Lewis


Christmas photos - how we decorated our apartment



More Christmas photos of our apartment





The full effect of our Christmas decorations....although it was after the lights fell haha.

Bakin cookies on Christmas Eve :)  Carrying out the Lewis family tradition!

(Sister Lewis told me on Christmas Day that they gave these cookies to investigators.)

We're the best sisters...

Christmas eve tradition...watching a Christmas movie with hot chocolate:)  And a huge plate of cookies from a lady in our ward!






Christmas morning...my personal version of a Christmas breakfast feast

(We got an email from a senior couple in Sister Lewis' mission the other day.  It said "She is such a hard worker and doing a great job as a trainer.  We loved her at first sight at the MTC."  And there were attachments!  This photo and video.)




video

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Christmas, Harry!

My one and only Christmas in the mission field! I'm actually pretty bummed that I don't get more than this one, because I'm absolutely happy being able to testify of the Saviour daily over here in Canada. Can't think of a better way to spend Christmas. Did I ever tell you I love being a missionary? Because I do, with my whole heart.

First, a shout-out to Elder Annen.... WELCOME HOME:) I hear you eat only rice and are trying to teach your dog Korean... thanks for just adding to the stereotype that missionaries come home super weird. Thanks a lot.

Quotes of the week:
1. This isn't a funny one, just a touching one, from a less active I absolutely adore--"The most important thing for the world to know is that Heavenly Father super loves us."

2. While doing language study with Sister Vera (and sorry if you don't speak French, you won't get it)--
Sister Vera: "Comment dit-on 'anana' au pluriel en englais?"
Me: "Ummm... Pineapples?"
Sister Vera: "Ugh! You messed it up! Most people say 'Ananas!'"
Me: (laughing) "Ok, how do you say 'pen' in plural in French?"
Sister Vera: "Les stylos."
Me: "Ahhh you got it!"
Sister Vera: "Sister Lewis, we are too smart to tell grammar jokes."

I love ma colleague missionaire!

This morning during personal study, I read over my notes from one of President Monson's talks in October General Conference. Here are some thoughts I studied and loved.

1. "Shall I falter, or shall I finish?"
This is one that I apply a lot to missionary work now ("Heavenly Father, we've set a goal of inviting 210 people to learn more about Thy gospel this week. We know that this goal is righteous and we feel it is inspired. Not many people are outside tonight. We are willing to do the work, so please bless us as we try to reach this goal."). But I also apply this principle to life in general. God expects us to do certain things--usually things that are not easy. But, shall I falter or shall I finish? Shall I let this trial consume me, or shall I finish? I love that it is purely our decision. We choose to falter. Wechoose to win, we choose to succeed, we choose to finish.

2. "The stronger the wind, the stronger the tree."
How comforting is it to know that God is always the one sending us the wind to see if we will still choose to grow strong. I love the peace that comes from knowing that God is on our side, that He's giving us the hard times because He loves us, and that He's waiting for us to rely on Him to make us strong through the wind. I'm still a pretty weak tree, but it's not the lack of wind that makes me stronger--it's the wind God sends my way. I love that He loves us enough to send us the wind so we can be happier and stronger.

3. Job 19:25-26: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."
Just think about Job's story--God gave him so much adversity. His best friends and all his family didn't recognize him or remember him. His children hated him. He lost his home and everything he had. He lost more than most of us had, at least more than I have. And yet he never once doubted. Through it all, when it seemed God had forgotten him, Job still says, "I know that my redeemer liveth." I aspire to have Job's faith, to know that even though days get hard, Christ lives. And I know that He does live.

I love you all and hope you have a perfectly Christ-centered Christmas:)

Love love love,

Sister Lewis

Sister Lewis didn't send any photos this week, but someone in Canada took some photos of her and emailed them to me!  



Also, there is a facebook page for Mormons of Atlantic Canada and on that page there was a post about the Christmas zone conference.
Each year at Christmas the Canada Halifax Mission has a special Christmas zone conference for the missionaries serving within the mission. The zone conference in addition to instruction and inspiration, has beautiful food provided by the faithful members and a fun talent show with a white Elephant gift auction. Even Santa Claus and his faithful elf makes and appearance.


Sister Lewis is in the front row on the far right.  Her companion is fourth from the left in the same row.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When I was a lass, I suvived the blizzard of '13.

It's been a crazy week! -20 degree weather and freezing wind at 20 km/hour, plus the ginormous blizzard that hit early yesterday morning, and the Fredericton missionaries are officially popsicles.

Quote of the week: 

Elder Evanson and Elder Wolsey (making a parody) of "You and Me": "It's you and me, converting the people. Like Ammon of old, we add to the fold. It's you and me, converting the people. The white handbook says I can't take my eyes off of you."

After church on Sunday, we and the elders practiced a musical number we're performing for zone conference in Monctontomorrow morning. We worked and worked through the blizzard, and then found our cars buried under about a foot of snow. So the elders went to work shoveling and we went to work scraping, and they found the snow plow and after more than an hour, we were out of the parking lot and into the blizzard on the bad roads. It was quite the day! I'm still frozen from it, and it was all worth it!

December 5 was a special day for me because it marked one year since I knew I was coming to the Canada Halifax Mission. I've been reflecting a lot on the type of person I've become in that year.

It amazes me how much God can change imperfect people into someone so much better. I'm not some incredible person right now, but I feel overwhelmed seeing the changes in me over the last year. I have a testimony of trials because before my mission, I came to the realization that there was nothing left for me to grow from at home at that point in my life. My entire purpose was about to be in Canada, and that was where I'd be able to grow--I would not be able to grow the ways I was supposed to without leaving on my mission. Service was what I needed. And now I've been a missionary for 8 months, and I'll be half-way done at the end of this transfer. I just feel completely blessed that God has been able to change me so much in so short a time. I feel closer than ever to my Saviour and my Redeemer.

We had a really neat experience last night while knocking. One of the first people we talked to was a man who opened his door and was really surprised to see us. He was kind of shocked. We got to know him a little and invited him to learn more, and he said he'd love to, then expressed that he's been going through some really big trials recently that he's asked God for guidance with. He said that he's been searching for a church to join that's right for him. He said, "I honestly think this is a sign from God that you came right now, at this moment." It was really amazing to hear because it had honestly been a really, really slow week and I think we needed the reminder that God's hand is in the work, especially when we're faithfully trying our hardest no matter what. As far as other investigators, we had to drop the French-speaking family we were teaching, but we still have high hopes for them in the future. We're hoping to figure out a way to be able to meet more frequently with investigators because it's been pretty hard recently with the snow and holidays. But we are excited for the opportunities we have in the next few weeks to work a little more closely with the members over the holidays. The work is hastening!

I love and pray for you all.

Love,

Sister Lewis

Snow in our apartment when we got home from church.

Watching it blizzard last night... a car outside our window.

My scarf after we got home from church.  It was frozen like this, completely stiff.  Notice the chocolate advent calendar :)

Bedroom window after church.

Our car this morning.  Almost half-way done!

Sheet of ice underneath all the snow.

Finally made it to the church parking lot this morning and IT. WAS. PLOWED!  Haha.  The pile of snow in the distance is about twice my height.  Also, I just felt my ponytail and it's frozen since it was wet from my shower this morning.

The streets look like this.

The snow on top of the church.

Hello, Canadian winter, I'm glad to be here :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

12/9/2013

"IIII'll be hoooome for Christmas..."

Shoot.

"IIIIIII'm dreaming of a white! Christmas!"

Ugh.

"Chestnuuuuuts! Roasting! On an o. pen. fiiiiire."

Bah hum bug.

"Mistletoe hung! Where you can see, every co-o-ouple tries to stop!"

Gah.

"Feliz navidad!"

'...Elise, mommy, dad' :'(

"Last Christmas, I gave you mah heart."

'Caaaaalvvvyyyyyyy.'

Sooo.... my family will be the only ones to get a few of those, but suffice it to say, I'm tired of Christmas music in grocery stores!

But I am grateful for the First Presidency (or not!) Christmas Devotional every year that welcomes in the Christmas spirit. I feel extra blessed to be the recipient of the Saviour's love and, at this time of year, to be able to teach others that they can feel it too. What a blessing.

Shout-out to Moriah!!!!!!! The big 1-8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love her with my whole heart. Don't be surprised if you find ugly Christmas cards from us at some point in the next few weeks.

Transfers were this Thursday! Sister Vera Mijares (two last names) is my new companion! She's 24 and from Venezuela/Quebec. She's a pro-street contacter and vibrant teacher. I'm excited for this next step! We're a rockin companionship so far, picked up 6 new investigators last week! Teaching lots of families!!!

Speaking of investigators, here's an update:

1. Greg*--56, lawyer, single, no kids. He says he'd never been interested in the church at all, but when we testified of the Book of Mormon to him, he said, "Okay, you've got me." He's out of town a lot for work, so it can be hard to meet with him, but we're excited to see him progress.

2. The Mganti* Family--We're teaching 6 of them: Albert* (the father), Ama* (the mother), Antoine* (son-in-law), Joy* (daughter, 20), Elise* (daughter, 16), and Fatima* (cutest girl in the whole world, 10). They're the French-speaking family who just decided to show up to church once a few weeks ago. They are reading the Book of Mormon and believe it's the word of God--haven't committed to baptism... yet! Language barrier.

3. The Boghossian* Family--George (the father), Meron* (daughter, 12), and Isaiah* (son, 10). From Ethiopia. Cutest family ever. Meron has almost finished the children's Book of Mormon stories, Isaiah has been watching the stories online, and George has been reading the Book of Mormon hand-in-hand with the Bible, which is difficult for him because he doesn't speak a lot of English. Which is why, when we brought them 3 copies of the Book of Mormon in Amaharic, they were ecstatic to start reading seriously! Language barrier.

4. Ghalib* and Omar*--a father/son combo from Egypt we started teaching last night. Ghalib's sister-in-law is a less active member. They are muslim. Not too sure of their real intent right now, but we're teaching them tonight, so we'll see how that goes:) Language barrier.

5. Phil* and Darcee*--an unmarried couple we knocked into. Darcee has a couple kids around my age (a son and a daughter). When we presented the Book of Mormon to them, we testified of it and the Spirit was very strong. We asked them to read it, and Mark said, "Absolutely." Darcee then clapped her hands and said, "I'm excited to read!!"

6. Chike* and Abeo*--a couple with 3 children between the ages of 10 and 19. We found them while knocking and Chike invited us right in. They are from Nigeria. They are very active in their own church and love discussing religion with us. They see the Book of Mormon as the word of God, but are having a hard time accepting that this is Christ's only true church. Language barrier.

7. Brittany*--found while knocking last night. She has two adorable children who are 3 and 18 months. She has had unpleasant experiences with religion in the past, but wants to learn.

We are blessed. It is an amazing feeling to know that God trusts Sister Vera and me with all of these children. I don't completely understand why He does, but He does.

I keep thinking about the miracle that the Saviour is. That He came into the world to such humble circumstances, that He understood His role as our Saviour and cultivated it, that even though we mess up everyday and take so long to learn He loves us anyway. That He was willing to die for us. It reminds me of a quote I've studied recently:

"I have suffered pain, you have suffered pain, and sometimes it has been quite severe; but I cannot comprehend pain... that would cause the blood, like sweat, to come out upon the body. It was something terrible, something terrific... There was no man ever born into this world that could have stood under the weight of the load that was upon the Son of God, when he was carrying my sins and yours and making it possible that we might escape from our sins."

If there's one thing I hope I can teach people, it's that they have a Saviour, and that He died for them. I loved the message that the Primary General President spoke about last night at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. "Jesus Christ died for you." He did. And I know that with everything I am.

Do what President Monson encouraged us to do last night--remember the spirit of Christ. Remember His atoning sacrifice. Remember that He was born and was killed for us.

I love you all. Have a good Christmas month:)

Sister Lewis



Elders surprised us with hot chocolate and donuts after we walked around in the snow all day :)

The timer went off too early... hahaha.  French "Prechez Mon Evangile" in my hands



Ice Skatin'



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Computer Crash

This is Sister Lewis' mom again.  Her computer crashed before she got he chance to send the big email.  But she did get some photos off this year.  I'm also taking the liberty of posting a few updates that she emailed to us separately.

1.  On Thursday, her current companion is being transferred someplace else and Sister Lewis will be getting a brand new companion fresh out of the MTC to train.  Her companion is a native French speaker and Sister Lewis is excited to speak more French.

2.  Fredericton got its first snowfall this past week and Sister Lewis was so happy because that means the temperature warmed up.  She had been suffering through freezing rain and wind cold enough that at the end of the day, the missionaries were sore from shivering.  She assures me that the snow was warmer and with no wind and less wet, she is much more comfortable.  Before the snow temps were around -38 (which is about the same in celsius and fahrenheit)!

3.  She opened the first two presents from our Christmas box--a nativity set and a Christmas CD by the Mormon Tabernacle choir.  She says it makes their apartment much more Christmasy.

4.  Last week was the Relief Society Christmas dinner and she and her companion performed their own arrangement of "Lord, I Would Follow Thee" and then she played the piano for some carol singing and the bishop also asked her to conduct the ward in singing hymns at the ward Christmas party this week.

5.  She's excited for the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and says that these devotionals are what missionaries' dreams are made of!  Everyone else will be watching it on their computers at home, but the sisters and elders will be in the Relief Society room watching it at 9pm while it snows outside.

6.  Her new favorite Mormon Message is this:



7.  The following three photos were sent to us from one of the senior couples serving with Sister Lewis.  Apparently, they had spent one Sabbath afternoon together and when the couple got home they found these surprise photos on their iPad.  The subject line of the email was "Love these Fredericton sisters."




The Hendricksons bought us all matching turkey slippers haha!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Many are cold, but few are frozen. Baby, it's cold outside.

So, let's just say that I've been a slacker on birthdays, big time. Sorry everyone who's had a birthday, but my mind tends to be elsewhere most of the time somehow:)

Quote of the week:

Me--while talking to someone at a door: "nd acally on at wbte, peeb ferm arnd the wrld, nd Fredton in prticlar, v cratd profls bot ho thir blfs ve blsd thir lves."

----Translation: "And actually on that website, people from around the world, and Fredericton in particular, have created profiles about how their beliefs have blessed their lives."----

It's so hard to try to smile and speak at the same time when your face is too frozen to move.

This week was a humbling week. Elders Evanson and Campbell (zone leaders) challenged us to sacrifice something--to put something on the altar--to bring us greater faith and success. Sister Sandberg and I decided to sacrifice thoughts and conversation that weren't focused on the work. Seeing the blessings that came from that was miraculous. Here are some of the results that came from our sacrifice:

1) 5 new investigators. This is the highest number of new investigators in one week I've ever had on my mission.
2) New ideas. Our minds weren't caught up in things from home, so we were more open to creative ideas to receive more revelation.
3) The highest key indicators in one week I've had on my mission yet. By 8.
4) An even closer relationship with my companion.
5) A deeper trust with the members in my ward.

So, for our 5 new investigators. They pretty much all came from tracting.  Two of them (Tanya* and Betty*) are going to school at UNB. Two of them (Phil* and Darcee*) are a couple and we will go back to see them later this week. They are sincere, and after we introduced the Book of Mormon to them, and testified of its truth and power, they said, "I'm excited to read this!!" The fifth investigator (Greg*) we knocked into a few weeks ago who has been hard to catch at home. But we taught him the restoration last night. The Spirit was strong and we invited him to be baptized. He said yes to baptism and no to a date, but we're seeing him again tonight and feel confident that if he is prepared, he will be accepting. A family from Congo showed up in church yesterday, and we're going to teach them later this week and hopefully pick them up as investigators. It's a French-speaking family of 6 (but we only counted the women who came), and so I was able to bear my testimony to them and pray in French during Sunday school, which was humbling and interesting! The French-speaking members of the ward jumped on board to help teach them, and we're really excited for the family's potential and the ways this will open the doors to working more closely with the members. We feel completely overwhelmed with the blessings that have come to our area this week.

....And transfers come Sunday morning:) Haha and we know we're not going to be together another transfer. Sigh. Just when things are going great....!:)

Love you all. The Church is true. Sacrifice works.

Love love love,

Sister Lewis

Monday, November 18, 2013

Didn't have time to write a big letter today! Sorry! Gotta run!

It was one of those days.
BEST FAMILY AWARD GOES TOOOOOO..... The Lewis family:))))))))


Playing with some of the kids in the ward.